The Mount Vernon Nazarene College women's basketball team will honor its three senior players prior to the Lady Cougars' final regular-season game against Urbana University on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.
LeAnn Mallernee, Kelly Shetler, and Deanna Kilpatrick have helped to lead MVNC to a 17-10 overall record this year and an 8-9 American Mideast Conference mark. A win over the Blue Knights on Saturday would give the Lady Cougars a berth in the eight-team conference tournament.
Over the past four seasons, MVNC has posted an overall mark of 72-58 (.554 winning percentage) with the 72 victories being the most in any four-year span in the program's history. It also marks only the second time in school history that the Lady Cougars have had four straight winning seasons. The team has also won three straight National Christian College Athletic Association East Region titles and advanced to the NCCAA National Tournament each of the past three seasons.
Mallernee, a 6-foot-2 center from Sugarcreek, Ohio, has made a huge impact in her first season with the team after transferring from Capital University. The former Garaway High School standout is averaging 14.7 points per game and leads the team in rebounding by grabbing 8.7 boards per contest. Mallernee has broken the school's single-season blocked shot record this year with 44 rejections, and she has recorded 33 assists and 35 steals. She is shooting 52.3 percent from the field (162-of-310) and 67.9 percent from the free throw line (74-of-109).
"LeAnn transferred here with only one year of eligibility remaining and has made the most of that opportunity by starting in the post for us throughout the season," said head coach Steve Gregory. "She is an extremely coachable player who is willing to do whatever is asked of her. She has been a big part of the success that we have enjoyed this season."
"LeAnn has done a great job all year long of working hard to get good position on the block to receive the ball," Gregory added. "She is a talented post player. My only regret is that I do not get three more years to work with her. She has also been a solid Christian influence on her teammates, and for that I am grateful."
Shetler, a 6-foot forward from Franklin, Pennsylvania, is averaging 6.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this season. The former Franklin High School product is shooting 37.3 percent from the field (59-of-158), 25 percent from three-point land (12-of-48), and 83.6 percent from the charity stripe (56-of-67). She also has nine blocked shots, 24 steals, and 48 assists.
For her career, Shetler has played in 125 games - the second most in school history. She has scored 621 points and grabbed 441 rebounds for her career. She also ranks ninth in school history with 44 career blocked shots.
"Kelly has worked very hard to improve her game and the team has benefited from it," said Gregory. "She has played both the 4 and 5 spots for us this season, and she has impressed opponents with her ability to shoot the three-point shot. Her improvement in the off-season is not something the casual observer would notice. Her biggest strides have come in her setup to receive the ball on the low block. She does a good job of sealing and getting good position. She is also a very intelligent player who finds creative ways to get her teammates open for shots."
"I am very proud of Kelly's outstanding achievements in the classroom as well as her continued improvement on the hardwood," Gregory added. "She has been a captain for us and a strong Christian leader throughout her career."
Kilpatrick, a 6-foot-1 forward from Warsaw, Ohio, is averaging 10.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season. The former River View High School star has nailed 53-of-167 three-point attempts (31.7 percent) and blocked 24 shots. She is also shooting 38.1 percent from the field (98-of-257) and 73.3 percent from the free throw line (22-of-30). In addition, she has recorded 60 assists and 31 steals.
For her career, Kilpatrick has played in 123 games and scored 1,012 career points. She is the Lady Cougars' career leader in three-pointers made (176) and attempted (530). She also ranks third in career blocked shots (89) and seventh in career rebounds (602).
"Deanna has been an integral part of our success over the past four years," said Gregory. "At 6-foot-1, most people would think she is a post player. Her versatility has enabled her to play mainly on the perimeter. Her perimeter shooting has been strong throughout her career. She also handles the ball well for her size and can take smaller players down low into the post."
"I am extremely proud of Deanna's accomplishments during her career here at MVNC," Gregory added. "She has indeed helped take our program to another level."
This trio of talented players have laid the foundation of success for future members of the MVNC women's basketball team to continue to build on.